DevOps Deeper Dive: Git Turns 15

Git, the version control system that arguably has enabled many DevOps advances over the last decade, is turning 15 this month. Git was developed by Linus Torvalds, best known for his contributions to Linux, and was so-named after he and the rest of the Linux community referred to it as “that stupid content tracker.” The term “Git” is British slang for “contemptible person.”

Today, Git is now arguably one of the most important and successful open source projects ever launched. For the past 15 years, the Git project has been led by Junio Hamano, a software engineer who today works for Google.

Git gained traction among developers because it provides support for rapid branching and merging of code in a way that also enables visualizing and navigating a non-linear development history. While even as far back as 2005 that was not a new idea, Git has emerged as the de facto standard for version control.

“Git is an essential part of everything we do,” said Pratik Wadher, a vice president at Intuit, which has made extensive use of the version control system within the context of multiple DevOps initiatives over the last half-dozen years. “It’s the single source of truth.”

As the de facto standard, Git has been the driving force behind what is now a multi-billion segment of the IT industry. In fact, with more individual developer and organizations contributing to Git than ever, the pace of innovation remains surprisingly strong 15 years into the open source project.

GitLab, GitHub, Microsoft and Google, for example, contributed a partial clone capability, available as an experiment via GitHub and GitLab, that makes it easier to work with large files. Instead of having to clone every file in a Git repository, it soon will become possible to more efficiently set up clones of repositories regardless of the size of the files in that repository.

That capability not only will prove critical to teams of developers working across multiple geographic regions but also will enable DevOps teams to employ Git to develop, for example, gaming applications that require DevOps teams to routinely work with large files, said Brendan O’Leary, senior developer evangelist for GitLab.

“It will enable new use cases,” said O’Leary.

The steady flow of innovations over the past 15 years has kept the base of organizations that rely on Git coming back for more. “The interesting thing about Git is that it has had real staying power,” said Kelly Stirman, vice president of product strategy and marketing for GitHub.

In terms of industry standards, Git can take its place alongside SQL and Linux in terms of impact, noted Stirman.

That staying power has even surprised some of the most ardent proponents of DevOps. “It’s been quite a journey,” said Ido Green, vice president of technology for JFrog, noting no one really knew 15 years ago just how big an impact the repository would have on software development.

Today, most organizations are employing Git because development teams don’t know any other way to manage source code.

“Git is now the default way to manage source code,” said François Dechery, chief strategy officer for CloudBees. “Ten years ago that was not the case.”

Where Git will be 10 years from now is, of course, anyone’s guess. But with the rise of various forms of artificial intelligence (AI) and the eventual embrace of best DevSecOps practices, it’s clear there are still many innovations to come that will revolve around a Git repository in some way.

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